Jon Montgomery captured the hearts of Canadians–and the attention of everyone–during the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games. After years of hard work, training and perseverance, Jon won a gold medal in the skeleton, securing his place in history as one of the best. His celebratory walk through Whistler showcased his passion, spirit, and sense of humour–traits that he brings to every platform, whether in front of a live audience or acting as the host of The Amazing Race Canada. With the reality television series set to go into it’s second season, Jon let Canadians know what they can expect to see this summer:
The world is waiting.
Jon Montgomery may not repeat The Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan’s familiar starting-line catchphrase word-for-word when the second running of The Amazing Race Canada is officially underway July 8, but the spirit will be the same.
Montgomery is back as host and the new teams have been named, from Winnipeg mother-and-son pairing Nicole Foster and Cormac Foster, whose motto is “No matter what we start, we finish,” to Terrace, B.C., siblings Sukhi Atwal and Jinder Atwal, who promise to do “whatever it takes!”
“Whatever” could end up covering a lot of ground — 10 million square kilometres, or nearly four million square miles, to be exact.
This season has a harder, more competitive edge, Montgomery said, on the phone from Toronto.
“Last year we didn’t have any real ‘villains’ on the show because everyone was being the quintessential Canadian. They wouldn’t even use the U-turns, for crying out loud, because they wanted to run a fair race,” he said.
“What’s different this time is we have more teams, which means more time to get rid of people. The race is obviously longer. The challenges are that much harder, that much more hair-raising. More gross. The racers themselves are more competitive. Last year we had a lot of great human interest stories. These were people who had a lot going on in their lives.
“We have that this year, too, but these people are way more competitive. They’re there to win it. They’re students of the game and fans of the show. They’re fit, competitive people who want to win at all costs.”
Amazing Race Canada’s second season will air on a new night — Tuesdays — throughout the summer and into September.
This time there are 11 teams, up from last season’s nine. Montgomery says the drive to win isn’t diluted by having more teams. If anything, the spirit of competition is heightened — and he would know, having competed in the skeleton event at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics and winning the gold medal for his efforts.
“I’ve seen people having to be their best when it mattered the most,” Montgomery said, “training eight, 10, 12 years for something that may last just 18 seconds. It doesn’t get much more concentrated than that.
“To see these racers, though, being put in pressure situations, being put through the wringer, is different because they’re not trained to deal with these types of situations. It’s interesting to see how they cope, how they either pull together as a team or fall apart. When the chips are down and the pressure’s on, people don’t have an opportunity to think about how they’re being perceived by people watching at home. People’s real personalities come out.”
The prize is $250,000 cash and the opportunity to fly for free anywhere in the world Air Canada flies for a full year, in business class no less. This season’s prize also includes “gas for life” from Petro-Canada, which, given the present state of world affairs, could be worth more than all the other prizes combined.
The Amazing Race is unique among TV reality competitions because of its unpredictability. Prior to crossing the finish line ahead of last season’s runners-up, Winnipeg father-and-son team Tim Hague Sr. and Tim Hague Jr. had not won a single stage in the race up to that point. They were nearly eliminated twice, yet they won in the end.
It’s that indomitable spirit and refusal to bow to unfortunate circumstance that separates the winners from the also-rans, Montgomery says. Hague Sr., a registered nurse, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease prior to running the race.
Montgomery’s perception of his home country hasn’t changed from hosting The Amazing Race. If anything, his preconceptions were confirmed.
“I was lucky enough to be able to do an extensive amount of travelling around my home country before being part of the show, and I already had a great appreciation for it. This only entrenched those beliefs, and bolstered the notion that this is truly one of the great countries in the world. We have so much to be proud of.
“When I’m on the East Coast, I’m thinking about my wife on the West Coast and the distance that separates the two of us. Anywhere else on Earth it would be a separation of four or five countries, minimum. But in Canada I’m every bit at home in Victoria, where we make our home now, as I am on the East Coast, or in the North. Everything between those spaces feels like home.
“It’s almost overwhelming to think you can proudly call that home, everything between you and whoever it is you’re thinking about on the other side of the country.”